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Chain control to Kirkwood CA?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
We are taking two SUVs to Kirkwood for the February ski week off from school from the Bay Area.

We are very familar with the chain control on HWY 80, but not the roads and controls to Kirkwood via HWY 88 and Via HWY 50-89-88.

On HWY 80, Cal-Trans never seems to require 4X4 SUVs to chain up. They'd close the road before requiring 4X4's with chains. Is this similar for the routes to Kirkwood?

If it is snowing, do they close HWY 88 at a drop of a hat? Any advice is appreciated.
post #2 of 16
As for chains, the answer is yes. R-4 (chains for everyone) controls are unlikely. The road does frequently close, but not at the "drop of a hat". Generally, it is for avy control.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by irul&ublo
As for chains, the answer is yes. R-4 (chains for everyone) controls are unlikely. The road does frequently close, but not at the "drop of a hat". Generally, it is for avy control.
Great. That means I don't have to by chains for the new SUV.
post #4 of 16
I have been up 88 a number of times this year when chain controls are in effect. Often, they just swing the signs to show chain control in effect, but unlike 80 and 50, there is no check station. If storm conditions prevail, always check road conditions on www.dot.ca.gov for Hwy 88. The Carson Spur frequently closes for long periods for avy control. The 50/89/88 approach is more reliable and has better alternatives if you have a storm hold.

R1 is snow tires (all season M+S OK) or traction devices
R2 is 2WD w/chains or 4x4 with snow tires, 4x4 to carry chains (no one will check)
R3 is chains on all vehicles, but road usually closes instead.

Most visitors to the Sierra in 2WD cars mistake R1 conditions for a chain requirement. If you have all season tires in good conditions, you can usually proceed. A second chain control may or may not be posted at a higher elevation with R2 conditions. Installing chains at the R1 station can often mean a long haul over wet roads with chains on the vehicle.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
I have been up 88 a number of times this year when chain controls are in effect. Often, they just swing the signs to show chain control in effect, but unlike 80 and 50, there is no check station.
Let's be very clear. When the chain control signs are out there are chain controls in effect. It doesn't matter whether the chain control is manned or not. It is illegal to proceed without observing the chain control restrictions, like speed limits. For example old-40 is an unmanned chain control check point. A Fed-Ex truck tried running the chain control and both got stuck and got busted (and broke his truck). For the original poster a 4wd will get you through, if the road is open, in all reasonable driving conditions.

ps. At least in Truckee Caltrans rarely uses the R2 designation. It's simply easier, safer, and more prudent to close the roads rather than allow SUV drivers free reign to cause chaos as they find out their brakes don't work so well. I don't know the realities at Kirkwood.
post #6 of 16
And now an encore presentation of my video chains of fools
post #7 of 16
I have a Front Wheel Drive Van, enroute to Kirk when Chain Control is in effect, I found instability driving on the snow, so it is better to put them on.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
I will trust my BMW xDrive on the X5 to get me through with no chains in R2 conditions.
post #9 of 16
just a warning,

CHP has been known to ask to see your chains even if you are driving a 4WD/AWD. I've been stopped and asked. So SUV drivers should still carry chains. If you are caught in a chain control area, don't have chains, the conditions get so bad while you are up there and you get stuck, they can fine you if you don't have the chains required.

It's rare but it would be an expensive lesson. 30.00 cable chains are cheap insurance. Good chains are even better. I've needed to use mine (not installed but just laid on the ground) to get enough traction to get out of a small rut. And I have used them on occasion just because the roads were so bad. (wet snow over super slick ice).

And by the way I do have AWD with eaton lockers in the rear and very good snow tires.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by duffin
I will trust my BMW xDrive on the X5 to get me through with no chains in R2 conditions.

I've watched x5's and 330xi's slide off the road. Even in "no chain control" conditions so don't be too confident.

Don't forget, 2wd/4wd, chains are no match for mother nature when she's mad.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
I've watched x5's and 330xi's slide off the road. Even in "no chain control" conditions so don't be too confident.

Don't forget, 2wd/4wd, chains are no match for mother nature when she's mad.
I would suggest that a healthy dose of fear and sensible scepticsm in German engineering would be appropriate too. I lived in Munich. We ran snow tires and needed them.
post #12 of 16
Come on guys, the Chain of Fools video is just of joke. I carry them, but have never had to put them on a 4X4 unless I was snowplowing.
True, I have a set of never before used, 3-year old chains in the original case. And after years of chain control stations, have never been asked to show them.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
Come on guys, the Chain of Fools video is just of joke. I carry them, but have never had to put them on a 4X4 unless I was snowplowing.
True, I have a set of never before used, 3-year old chains in the original case. And after years of chain control stations, have never been asked to show them.
Like I said, rare. The time I was "chain checked" I was leaving Kings Beach headed for Donner via Truckee (going past North Star) It was during a big storm that was just turning from rain to snow. CHP had just re-opened the road after several jackknifed trucks had been cleared. I think that's 89 (Northshore Rd)
post #14 of 16
Remember it is 4x4 with snow tyres.

Many SUVs these days especially X5s and the like have high performance road tyres not S+M designated tyres. A 4x4 with road tyres rather than all sesaon or snow and mud tyres will have very limited control in the snow & ice.
post #15 of 16

if roads get bad, recommend taking 50

I know its further to drive but its actually way faster to drive to Meyers and take 50 if its snowing. 50 is much easier to keep open than 88--doesn't go through nearly as treacherous an avalanche area, and goes 4 lane pretty quickly.
post #16 of 16
In heavy snow, or any snow with high winds, Carson Spur can close....all day for avalanche work. This makes Kirkwood impossible to reach from the West on 88. If a storm is pounding, I always take 50 East to 89 south to 88 West over Carson Pass. It takes about 20 minutes longer than going through Jackson. You can check road conditions on www.dot.ca.gov but the safest bet is to go around on a storm day.

One other thing. Kirkwood is terrible on a storm day. All summit and backside lifts often close. If winds are forecast to blow over 60 MPH on the ridges, I find an alternative like Sierra or Homewood.
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